Tag Archives: historical fantasy

[GUEST POST] Craig Cormick’s 5 Lessons on The Pitfalls of Writing a Sequel

Craig Cormick in an Australian science communicator and author. He was born in Wollongong in 1961, and is known for his creative writing and social research into public attitudes towards new technologies. He has lived mainly in Canberra, but has also in Iceland (1980–81) and Finland (1984–85). He has published 15 books of fiction and non-fiction, and numerous articles in refereed journals. He has been active in the Canberra writing community, teaching and editing, was Chair of the ACT Writers Centre from 2003 to 2008 and in 2006 was Writer in Residence at the University of Science in Penang, Malaysia.

Five Lessons on The Pitfalls of Writing A Sequel

by Craig Cormick

Everyone loves a sequel, right?

Well, not necessarily. They are great for those who enjoyed a book and want to continue the enjoyment and spend more time with those characters and in that land, or fighting those aliens or demons or whatever. But they can be the devil to write (not a paranormal reference).

I’ve been trying to find a good metaphor to best explain the particular problems that writing the second book in a series presents for an author? It’s not quite like having a second child. It’s not quite like visiting an exotic city for the second time. It’s not even quite like having sex for the second time with the same partner (not a paranormal romance reference).

But in a way it’s a little bit like all of these, as there is a certain undeniable special magic that goes with the first that is lacking in the second.
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BOOK REVIEW: Talus and the Frozen King by Graham Edwards

REVIEW SUMMARY: A murder mystery with big aspirations that tries its very best, but is tripped by a detective-bard that’s the antithesis of a bard.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The travelling bard Talus and his companion Bran find themselves with a murder on their hands as they pass through the island of Creyak. The victim? The king. Who could commit such a crime? At first, it appears there is no clear motive and no suspect daring enough to kill the king and anger the spirits in the afterlife. But Talus and Bran soon find that the peaceful and isolated Creyak holds its share of secrets.

PROS: The juxtaposition of a detective narrative and investigation that reminds you of many police procedural dramas against an unlikely setting; the murder mystery and reveal are decent and satisfactory; the interpersonal relationships between the island natives, especially the sons of the king, are genuine and interesting to see unwind; the novel diversifies the cast with the inclusion of a gay character.
CONS: The writing tries to evoke a film noir feel, but most sentences turn into telegrams and at times it feels like you have a woodpecker in your head; Talus is supposed to read as a smart and cunning character who has everything under control, but remains a condescending grouch throughout the novel; Bran reads like a plot device that prompts Talus to explain every detail and break in the case to the reader.
BOTTOM LINE: I’ve had a maddening experience with Talus and the Frozen King because when Edwards nails it, this book is a page turner. I had no idea who the murderer was and all the suspects had the motivation to commit the crime. I loved the concept and how the investigative process translates into the Neolithic era. But when Edwards misses the mark, the novel makes me want to bang my head against a wall. I fluctuated between adoration and pure rage every thirty or so pages.

Talus and the Frozen King is at its core a whodunit murder mystery, so any discussion of plot holds little to no merit. I’m going to provide key points with as few spoilers as possible, but some minor spoilers may slip in. Beware, reader!
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